Aldi has opened its first checkout-free store, where shoppers will be able to pick up products and leave without queuing to pay.
The discount supermarket’s new site in Greenwich, south-east London, which opened at 7am this morning ‘for public testing’, will also allow customers to buy alcohol, using facial age estimation technology to check whether they appear to be over the age of 25.
The move follows in the footsteps of rivals Amazon and Tesco, who have both opened checkout-free stores.
Special cameras will monitor customers as the make their way around the store
Aldi had been trialling the store with employees over the past few months before launching the service on Tuesday. Customers scan an app to enter the store
Unlike a regular shop, customers can put their purchases directly into their bag
A series of cameras installed in the ceiling follow customers as they do their shopping, and then bill them when they leave.
Aldi had been trialling the store with employees over the past few months before launching the service on Tuesday.
The aim is to end long queues in stores and could lead to more sites opening.
Customers must register with Aldi’s Shop&Go app, which will allow them to enter the store, pick up their items, and then walk out.
Aldi said customers wishing to purchase alcohol will be able to use facial age estimation technology to authorise their purchase.
The technology, provided by Yoti, enables customers to confirm their identity via the app. Anyone who opts out will be age-verified in store.
Aldi UK and Ireland chief executive Giles Hurley said: ‘Today is the culmination of months of work, not least from the team here in Greenwich, and I’m looking forward to seeing how customers react to our trial.
‘This store utilises the very latest in retail technology.’
Store manager Lewis Esparon said: ‘We have been working towards this day for several months now so it will be great to see how our customers react to the new technology.
More than 300 cameras, pictured above, monitor what each customer puts into their bag and tallies their bill as they walk around the store
The store uses a special app which can assess a user’s age to determine whether they are old enough to purchase alcohol
According to The Grocer, the technology behind the system was developed by Aifi which is used by several ‘just walk out’ stores such as Albert Heijn in the Netherlands, Zabka in Poland and Carrefour in Dubai.
Today, shoppers who used the store were divided about the use of technology.
People were curious to try the new payment method but some expressed concerns older vulnerable groups could be left behind.
Some people’s bill, which should take five to 10 minutes to arrive, took longer than expected to come through but many other customers shopped smoothly without any issues.
When MailOnline visited at lunchtime, the bill for a bag of five items did not arrive for an hour, but did eventually come through.
The cameras identify the items a shopper picks up and automatically updates the shopping basket
Once someone logs in using the app and enters the store, they are followed automatically by ceiling-mounted cameras
Retired teacher Mary, 83, who did not want to give a surname but lives in West Greenwich said: ‘I prefer to have a human behind the till but we will give this a go’
Sue Crather, 57, who lives in Charlton and is a support worker for homeless people said: ‘I think it discriminates against older and disabled people’
A spokesperson said some other shoppers were experiencing delays.
Customers simply scan a QR code from the store’s Shop&Go app to get in, and staff then use more than 300 cameras to follow shoppers, before billing them as they leave.
People buying alcohol use facial age recognition technology to check whether they look older than 25.
A steady stream of shoppers checked out the hi-tech store at lunchtime today while some locals simply walked past to check it out.
Chef Scarlett Hill, 22, from Greenwich said: ‘Doing the shop was fun. We had no problems and have been billed straight away.
‘We have been waiting for months as we have watched it get ready to open.
‘We will go back because it is cheap and easier than a normal shop.’
Chef Scarlett Hill, 22, left, from Greenwich said: ‘Doing the shop was fun. We had no problems and have been billed straight away. Her friend Charlie Cook, right, described the experience as ‘a bit futuristic and scary’
Her friend Charlie Cook, 24, who works in advertising and also lives in Greenwich said: ‘I like shopping in person but I’m sure I will get used to this.
‘It is a bit futuristic and scary, and not very sociable.’
Sue Crather, 57, who lives in Charlton and is a support worker for homeless people said: ‘I think it discriminates against older and disabled people.
‘I have family members who cannot read and it is very important that they can shop and live independently. They deserve to be independent.
To use the store, customers must have a smartphone where they can download an app
‘It would be much better if you had the option to do it automatically or not to.
‘I am not going to go to it. What is difficult is that there are people who like the price of Aldi but cannot use it if it is all automatic.’
Retired teacher Mary, 83, who did not want to give a surname but lives in West Greenwich said: ‘I prefer to have a human behind the till but we will give this a go.
‘In normal shops I often play the old woman and someone helps me with checkout.
‘Not everyone has an app on their phone and it can go wrong.
‘If it ends up being very easy we will go back.
Smart data expert, Samuel Mueller, who is CEO and co-founder at Scandit says it is too early to deploy ‘just-walk-out’ technology across all stores.
He said: ‘Aldi opening their first Shop&Go store comes as no surprise as this move was to be expected by UK retailers after being squeezed by online giants like Amazon for over a decade.
‘Just-walk-out technology may be suitable for small-format stores with limited products that suit the “grab-and-go” model but many retailers cannot use it because their product range is larger, complex and requires explanation.
‘Also, while retailers are waking up to the reality that the key to winning the omnichannel war is to leverage the device in consumers’ hands, they need to think carefully about how the transaction technology fits within the overall customer experience.
‘We’re seeing many retailers turning to smart data capture and computer vision powered apps on consumer smartphones that offer a frictionless blend of digital and physical shopping. Consumers want the convenience and choice of self-scanning plus the ability to view real-time product information on their device before buying.
‘The beauty here is that retailers bring all the benefits of online shopping into the physical store, without the need for a costly and time intensive store refit. And the same technology on smartphones can be provided to their employees – adding speed and simplicity to supply chains, operations and customer service.’
How the ‘just walk out’ system works
German supermarket Aldi has launched its first Shop&Go store in Greenwich which allows customers to buy goods without having to stop at a checkout
Customers log into their Aldi Shop&Go app and enter the store.
Specially positioned cameras follow the shopper around the shop and monitor the items they pick up.
When a customer picks up an item, the system adds it to their shopping basket.
If they return the item it is automatically removed.
The system uses facial age assurance technology if a customer picks up alcohol.
The cameras will determine if a customer is over 25. If they look under 25 they will have to see a member of staff.
When leaving the store, the customer is charged for the goods they have taken.
Their shopping receipt is automatically sent to their app or their email account.
Source: Daily Mail UK